I get asked all the time how I got my job in Japan immediately out of college. Truth is, my Mother's conversation about me at a salon in the USA with a stranger eventually led to an offer for me to head the international business for a Japanese marketing company in Tokyo called IMP, Inc. In this post, I'll share the story.
I mentioned in a former post that I decided since high school that I wanted to start my business career in Japan. To get a job there, I strategically took my last college semester at Temple University's campus in Tokyo, Japan. It turned out that getting a business job in Japan was the hardest thing I had ever accomplished at that time. I must have gone through 25+ interviews with Japanese companies. My extremely limited knowledge of Japanese was an immediate killer for most employers. I always say that most of my success is due to my persistence, but some luck along the way surely helps!
The Dream Job I Accepted
With my degrees in Entrepreneurship and International Business, I was searching for something 'startupish'. That's precisely what I found with IMP, Inc.
My Mother (Mary Jo) was getting her hair cut in her friend's (Gloriana) salon and was talking about how I was searching for such a position with a Japanese company. Another lady (Nancy) overhead my mother. Nancy's daughter (Krista) lived in Japan and was friends with the wife (Bess) of IMP, Inc.'s CEO (Tetsuo). Nancy told my mother this. I connected with Nancy (through my Mom), then connected with Krista, then connected with Bess, and finally connected with Tetsuo. Nearly a month later, I was in my dream job leading the international business of IMP, Inc. (Testuo's company). I convinced Tetsuo to pay me the lowest salary of the company ($24,000/year) and promised him that I'd be sufficiently proficient in Japanese within three months.
The Other Offer
If it wasn't for my Mother (pictured above), I'd have accepted another offer to work for Clara Online (a Japanese company in Tokyo) to head their Taiwan-Japan operations. This offer was extremely attractive, making double what I would be making at IMP, Inc. I knew IMP, Inc. was the right fit, however. I often wonder how different my life would be and if PlaySay would exist if I'd have accepted this other offer.
How'd I Interview without Japanese?
When there's a will there's a way. In my interviews with Japanese companies, I'd ask if there was a human translator available and if not, if I could bring one. I'd make sure to have the translator give me the interview question in English. Before-hand, I prepared many pre-scripted answers and memorized them in Japanese, which is exactly what I did after hearing the interview question in English. My pronunciation must have been horrible! Regardless, this showed my commitment to their language and culture. I also paid to have my entire online resume and personal website (pics of me skating are on it!) translated into Japanese.